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Charleville Musket
Firing and Cleaning

        
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Revolutionary War Musket

The "Revolutionary" Charleville
Charleville Musket
Charleville Muzzle-Loading Musket
Charleville Flintlock Musket
Charleville Lore

"The Model 1766 Charleville is based on the first regulation French military musket -- the so-called Model of 1717.  The Pedersoli (Italy) reproduction features a European walnut fullstock 57 1/2" long with satin finish, 2 1/2" drop and 13 1/4" trigger pull.  Barrel is armory bright .69 caliber smoothbore, round tapered 1.300" at breech to .840" at muzzle.  [In comparison, Brown Bess is .75 caliber with .69 caliber ball.]  Flintlock uses 1" [1" wide x 11/8 " long] flints .  All steel furniture is armory bright, lockplate is marked "Charleville."  Steel ramrod with trumpet shaped head and 10x32 thread.   Gun is 60" in overall length and weighs 10 1/2 lbs.  Load with 80 grains FFg black powder and patched .680 round ball."  Dixie Gun Works  [Note:  Model 1766 {Light model 1763} Charleville normally came equipped with a button-head ramrod.  Trumpet shape usually came with Model 1763 or 1773-77 Charlevilles.  Common that current suppliers also provide Model 1777 bayonets (with center locking band; although not generally supplied by the French to the colonists, the French fighting alongside the colonists did have them on their Model 1777 Charlevilles).  Also, at Yorktown the Americans were using a .643 ball called a #19 ball, as there were 19 balls per pound of lead.] 

Note:  Webmaster's Pedersoli Charleville is 60 inches long and weighs 10.4 pounds.  With 1777 bayonet, it is 77 inches long and weighs 11.2 pounds. 

Notes:  According to the following site ( http://www.littlegun.info/arme%20francaise/collection%20fusils/a%20a%20collection%20fusils%20tir%20fr.htm), the Charleville used a  .65 caliber ball with over 154-185 grains of "musket" powder for the cartridge (included priming powder).   It's been reported that Hoyem's History and Development of Small Arms Ammunition says that around 1776, the French muskets were of .69 caliber, with ball diameter of .63, and powder charge of 189 grains, 10 grains of which were used for priming.  Effective range:  100 to 200 yards max, 50 to 75 effective.  Fortification designers planned on  "musket shot" range of 300 yards regardless of inaccuracy.  Beware:  widely varying claims exist for the correlation between current black powder and Rev War era "musket" powder.  After its powder was emptied into the barrel, a paper cartridge with ball enclosed was rammed down the barrel, ball first, acting both as wadding and ball stabilizer (for better accuracy), similar to the patch mentioned above by Dixie Gun Works.  While Washington's troops at Yorktown used a bore #19 ball (19 balls per pound) with .643 caliber, this size ball is hard to find.  G. Eddie May has sold .648 caliber (16 gauge shotgun) round balls for the great price of 20 cents each (postage extra).  You can contact Eddie for current pricing for this and other sizes at 706-581-8225.  Eddie's mailing address is 159 Ridley Rd, Chatsworth, GA  30705-5757. 

 

Firing musket videos: 

Shooting the 1766 Charleville Musket
Charleville 1766 Tips
West Point Flintlock Video
Revolutionary War Soldier Explaining [Charleville] Flintlock Musket
Firing a Musket:  18th-Century Small Arms
Revolutionary War Musket Bunker Hill July
2009
Why a musket???
Why a musket???  part 2
Musket Firing at Concord
Brown Bess Musket -- Three Shots in 46 Seconds*
How to Fire Brown Bess Musket -- English Heritage
Firing a Flintlock Musket         Loading and Firing a Musket

Lexington Concord Battle Road Minute Man National Park
Rifle and Musket Demonstration at Valley Forge
Revolutionary War Re-enactment [
2005 at Cantigny- Wheaton, IL] 

The American Revolution in 4 breathtaking minutes!
Bullet-making 1       Bullet-making 2
Cartridge-making     Reenactment Cartridge-making


Note difference in Rev War vs. later method of putting ball into barrel and in determining rate of fire.  Those claiming five shots per minute usually started with a loaded musket and jammed the ramrod into the ground as opposed to returning it to its slot in the musket between firings. Best otherwise is four shots per minute.  Brown Bess* expert above almost makes the rate of four shots per minute (3 shots in 46 seconds is 3.913 shots per minute).  Usual rate is three shots or even just two shots per minute.  One expert [Allen Guelzo] claims the "inverse," that, in the fog of war (smoke-filled, anxiety-ridden battlefields), it was more likely that a soldier would fire one shot every three to five minutes.   Colonel Light Horse Harry Lee in his memoirs admiringly describes an American regiment at Brandywine which fired 30 rounds per man in 45 minutes (0.66 rounds per minute or 1.5 minutes per round).   Comparatively in the best of circumstances, rifles might fire one shot per minute with frequent barrel fouling due to powder residue build-up.  Common for musketeers to fire three shots and then charge with the bayonet to hopefully make the enemy break, run, or otherwise flee the field.  Mathew Spring's research says the British preferred to close to within 75 yards of the enemy, fire a volley, and then charge with the bayonet.  In the time it took an opponent to reload, well-trained soldiers could outrun the range of a musket.  These tactics brought them victory more often than not.  Realize that the tactics at the time were a result of the technology available, with tactics normally following but sometimes inspiring technology.  The musket was a "point and shoot" weapon, known more for its volume than accuracy of fire (similar to today's 2-pound lighter M-16).  Washington even ordered the front sites of the Charlevilles removed to reduce his soldiers' temptation to aim, which took time away from producing deadly walls of balls. (see Comparative Accuracy Notes near the bottom of the page)  Keeping musketeers close together allowed for effective voice commands given on a noisy field of battle, when half the battle would be fought in well-timed (often after the other side had discharged its weapons and before it could reload) and cohesive bayonet charges much like Greek phalanx attacks.  Thus battlefields were chosen for their cleared, deforested, unobstructed, and even land.  Through both bullets and bayonets, victory went to the side which could drive its opponent from the field. 


Firing:

For reenactment cartridges for most modern-made replica muskets, consider using no ball with 60-100 grains of black powder, likely 3FFFG for extra smoke.  85 grain cartridges will work fine for reenacting. 
Note:  Charleville pistols, like most pistols,  max at 75 grains per cartridge for safe reenacting.
Maximum allowable per safety officer usually ranges somewhere between 110 and 120 grains.

Check first with your safety officer!!!  Do not use modern smokeless powder!!

Note:  If a pound of powder is 7,000 grains, then, with 100 grains/shot-cartridge, a pound can of powder should yield 70 shots.  At 85 grains/shot, a pound powder can should yield 82 shots.  If 20 each 85 grain shots were used per battle, with four battles per event, a two-day, four-battle event would require a pound of powder.  


Instructions and video of cartridge assembly:     Video of cartridge with ball.    Video of reenactment cartridge-making .

Discussion of firing buck and ball.

For firing with ball, use only what musket manual states, likely FF Grade (not FFFG) powder in proper amount!

Before firing, assemble flint jaw and install flint (with leather or (preferably) lead holder) with sharp forward edge aligned so that it will squarely meet the top 1/3 of closed frizzen to generate sufficient spark.  This may mean that you have to invert the flint.  Consider carrying a nail in your cartridge box should you need need to field-adjust the flint jaw.  [On average a flint may last 30 shots without knapping.  At 15 shots per battle, this may last you a two-day event.] 
Ensure that left side of flint will not hit barrel when trigger pulled.  Tighten jaw so that flint will not slip.  Video of fitting gun flint.   Study in article by Black Powder Magazine found no difference using lead versus leather as far as producing better spark. 

Note:  Wide variation in flint use.  Replacement may be needed in as few as 20 shots or as many as 150 shots.  Common to see 60 to 100 shots per flint, with knapping as required after every battle's 10-16 shots.

 



Courtesy of Larry Pletcher

 

 


Sling in bottom photo employs buckle with tongue removed to allow quicker lengthening and shortening. 
 

Charleville 1766 Musket Sling
 

Cleaning:
 

  

Musket Cleaning Kit
 

Charleville 1766 Lock



Note:  Photos show lock uncocked.

Failure to keep your musket clean, dry, and lubricated will quickly lead to pitting from corrosive gun powder, rusting from the weather, and extra wear due to added friction.  After each battle in an event (series or weekend of battles), use a pick & pan brush and clean towel to remove powder residue from lock, stock, and barrel.  At the end of the day, if a bucket of water is available, you may want to disassemble your musket into basic parts by removing the appropriate screws and bands.  Immerse the lock and clean it with a toothbrush and cotton swab, as you move the hammer through its positions.  Dry thoroughly and lightly oil.  Put the touch hole end of the barrel into the bucket and pour water down the barrel, doing your best to clean it along the lines of the thorough barrel cleaning procedure outlined below, or minimally by pumping water through the barrel by using the ramrod with cleaning patches and then drying.

At the end of each event, clean your musket as above but using hot, soapy water to remove the sooty powder residue.  Also remove the hammer from the lock (cock it if needed) and clean and grease behind it.  Also, loosen the flashguard screw and clean behind the flashguard.   Be sure to use properly-sized screwdrivers so as not to strip the unusually small-sized screw slots.  Use Liquid Wrench if screws prove difficult to turn.  Be careful; replacement parts are not inexpensive!   
 
For thorough lock cleaning after each season, first remove lock from stock, then disassemble lock (see below).  After disassembly, immerse lock parts in hot (preferably soapy) water. 
Use toothbrush, toothpick, Q-tip and/or cotton swab to clean crevices.  Use fine steel wool to remove rust.  Rinse with hot, clean water.  Dry (use blow dryer if desired to avoid rust in tight spaces), then lightly oil, then reassemble (see below). 
Note:  for those not able to frequently and thoroughly clean their locks, consider lubricating the moving lock parts with marine trailer wheel bearing grease.  Such grease is water resistant and allows dunking the lock in water to quickly remove most powder residue but with minimal rust effects.
Note:  Place loose screws on a saucer or in a container to avoid losing them.  If cleaning in or near a sink, place screen over the drain to avoid lost parts.  Also best to use an area where parts can be easily seen and dropped parts easily found.  Use good screwdrivers so as not to strip expensive screw heads.
 

Here is a quick list to disassemble (Pedersoli reproduction model pictured above): 
1.  Put the lock into the half-cock position (allows for easier removal of mainspring & reassembly of hammer).
2.  Unscrew the jaw from the hammer. 
3.  Remove Q (hammer) screw and P (washer, if applicable)
4.  Remove K (medium screw, medium shank) and J (medium/feather spring; compress first using vise). 
5.  Remove N (flashguard and feather spring screw -  long screw, long shank (unthreaded portion)) and L (frizzen).
6.  Remove I  (small screw, no shank) holding H (pan assembly).
7.  Remove G (small screw, medium shank) holding small/sear spring.
8.  Compress Mainspring Vise on A (main spring) to release D (bridle), B (tumbler), and C (sear).  You are advised not to remove the main spring's screw.
9.  Remove E2 (medium screw, medium shank) and E1 (medium screw, large shank).
 

Not counting any flint, washer, or flashguard (parts extra from the manufacturer), you should have 18 separate parts in hand.   Clean, dry, and oil lock parts as advised above. 

To assemble/reassemble (Pedersoli reproduction model): 
1.  Compress main spring A using Mainspring Vise (and possibly large pliers to help get started if you have a smaller vise) to allow for insertion of B (tumbler).
2.  Insert B (tumbler) into position pictured.
3.  Insert D (bridle), screwing down with E2 (medium screw, medium shank).  Do not confuse E2 with K, which has a slightly thicker head, is slightly smaller, and has fewer threads.
4.   Insert C (sear), screwing down with E1 (medium screw, large shank).  Uncompress main spring A.
5.  Insert G (small screw, medium shank) through sear spring F and screw partially into hole; compress spring with heavy thumb pressure, inserting spring edge into slot, then tighten G while fully inserting spring into slot.
6.  Insert H (pan assembly) and screw down with I (small screw, no shank).
7.  Insert and compress feather spring J and screw down with K (medium screw, medium shank). 
8.  Compress J (feather spring) with Mainspring Vise and position frizzen  L and flashguard M, screwing down with N (long screw, long shank).
9.  Grease underside of hammer O , place hammer on square, pull back one position to half-cocked so that the hammer can be correctly attached, adding P (if required), and screwing down with Q (with its underside greased). 
Ensure that screw is tight enough so that hammer does not wiggle sideways in half-cocked position (a point of troop inspection).
10.  Assemble flint jaw and install flint (with leather or lead holder) with sharp forward edge aligned so that it will squarely meet top 1/3 of closed frizzen. 
Note:  flint may need to be turned upside down to meet top 1/3 of closed frizzen. 
Ensure that left side of flint will not hit barrel when trigger pulled.  Beware:  flint is sharp and can cut flesh easily!
11.  If not using soon, store in uncocked position, with frizzen open, and with flint jaw/cap loosened.  If storing with flint loose in jaw, be sure to tighten the flint jaw before heading to the field to avoid misfiring or losing the flint altogether.

Alternate/original term translationcap = jaw; cock = hammer; hammer, steel, or battery = frizzen
 

For thorough barrel cleaning after each event,
1.  Remove the barrel from the stock and put the touch-hole end of the barrel into a bucket of hot, soapy water. 
2.  Holding the end of the barrel near vertical, pour soapy water down the barrel a number of times, with the water exiting from the touch-hole.
3.  Having put the Ramrod Tool Adapter on the ramrod, attach in turn the (12 gauge shotgun bore) Brush, Jag, and Fouling Scraper, running each down the barrel
several times, gently twisting the Fouling Scraper in a clockwise.  If gets stuck, do not turn counter-clockwise too many time to risk losing it. 
4.  Attach the Slotted Tip Patch Holder or the Worm to the ramrod, and run one or two cleaning patches
(2.5 inch sq or appropriately free-handed)  down the barrel, pulling up soapy water on the up-strokes. 
5.  Remove the ramrod and pour clean hot water down the barrel until the water from the touch-hole runs clean.
6.  Make additional clean patch runs with the ramrod until the patches show absolutely no black powder residue.
7.  Put a new, lightly-oiled cleaning patch on the ram road and oil the barrel. 
8.  Lightly oil the outside of the barrel.
Note:  before battle, some prefer to run a clean patch down the barrel to remove any oil and enhance powder flow down the barrel.   


For thorough stock cleaning after each event, use a clean, moist rag, drying and finishing-up with a light oil.  Some prefer linseed oil. 
Before putting your musket into storage at the end of the season, remove and oil/polish the leather sling and then remove and clean/oil the trigger mechanism.  Reassemble.

For rust removal, use steel wool or a period brick-dust compound, then oil.

Notes:  1.  Don't forget to keep all screw threads lubricated, especially after cleaning with water. 
This includes machine screws, threaded tools, ramrods, etc. 
2.  Tie a cleaning rag to your cartridge box to clean your musket immediately after firing. 
3.  When possible, after cleaning intricate parts with water, use a hair dryer to make sure parts are completely dry to avoid rusting.  

Caveat lector:  reader beware!  
While the author is happy to share this best-to-his-knowledge information and appreciates your reading it, he can assume no responsibility for how you put it to use. 

The appearance of links to/from other sites does not imply endorsement. 
Feedback and corrections are always welcome! 

Note:  Here are photos of locks from a Brown Bess musket (courtesy of Track of the Wolf) and a Charleville 1763 pistol.  Here's a link to Brown Bess cleaning.

   

 

Here is a quick list to disassemble (Charlesville pistol reproduction model pictured above): 
1.  Put the lock into the half-cock position (allows for easier removal of mainspring & reassembly of hammer).
2.  Unscrew the jaw from the hammer. 
3.  Remove Q (hammer) screw and P (washer, if applicable)
4.  Compress J (medium/feather spring) using vice. 
5.  Remove N (flashguard and feather spring screw -  long screw, long shank (unthreaded portion)) and L (frizzen).
6.  Compress Mainspring Vise on A (main spring) and remove A to release D (bridle), B (tumbler), and C (sear).
7.  Remove screw which was hidden by the mainspring to remove J (feather spring).
7.  Remove I  (small screw, no shank) holding H (pan assembly).
8.  Remove G (small screw, medium shank) holding small/sear spring.
9.  Remove E2 (medium screw, medium shank) and E1 (medium screw, large shank).

Clean, dry, and oil lock parts as advised above. 

To assemble/reassemble (Charlesville pistol reproduction model pictured above):
1.  Insert screw to attach J (feather spring). 
2.  Insert B (tumbler) into position pictured.
3.  Insert D (bridle), screwing down with E2 (medium screw, medium shank). 
4.   Insert C (sear), screwing down with E1 (medium screw, medium shank). 
5.  Insert G (small screw, medium shank) through sear spring F and screw partially into hole; compress spring with heavy thumb pressure or pliers, inserting spring edge into slot, then tighten G while fully inserting spring into slot.
6.  Insert and uncompress main spring A.
7.  Insert H (pan assembly) and screw down with I (small screw, no shank).
8.  Compress J (feather spring) with Mainspring Vise and position frizzen  L and flashguard M, screwing down with N (long screw, long shank).
9.  Grease underside of hammer O , place hammer on square, pull back one position to half-cocked so that the hammer can be correctly attached, adding P (if required), and screwing down with Q (with its underside greased). 
Ensure that screw is tight enough so that hammer does not wiggle sideways in half-cocked position (a point of troop inspection).
10.  Assemble flint jaw and install flint (with leather or lead holder) with sharp forward edge aligned so that it will squarely meet top 1/3 of closed frizzen. 
Note:  flint may need to be turned upside down to meet top 1/3 of closed frizzen. 
Ensure that left side of flint will not hit barrel when trigger pulled.  Beware:  flint is sharp and can cut flesh easily!
11.  If not using soon, store in uncocked position, with frizzen open, and with flint jaw/cap loosened.  If storing with flint loose in jaw, be sure to tighten the flint jaw before heading to the field to avoid misfiring or losing the flint altogether.

Alternate/original term translationcap = jaw; cock = hammer; hammer, steel, or battery = frizzen
 


Charleville pistols

 


   
Click for action          Season 3, Episode 5:  "Hypocrisy, Fraud, and Tyranny"           Click for youtube action
 

Copyright 2011-17  William J. Bahr

 

Musket Slings, Flints, and Accessories (Vendor)

Pocket-size Musket Cleaning Kit

Musket Firing and Maintenance

Musket Care and Cleaning 

Pedersoli 1766 Charleville Musket Parts

Why Didn't My Musket Fire?

Dangerous Muzzleloading Practices

Gunflint Sharpening   Gunflint Sharpening   Gunflint Sharpening

Gunflint Making 1     Gunflint Making 2

"If you have a hard frizzen and matched main and feather springs, a flint will last 100 strikes."  Al Potyen, experienced reenactor, 2VA Regt, NWTA

General Musket Information

Manual of Arms

National Park Service's 18th Century Musket Manual -- Belatedly discovered on 11/17/13 ; numerous topics; very interesting!! 

Flintlock Safety and Other Tips

Flintlock FAQs

Field Cleaning of Musket Video

Flintlock Field Cleaning Video

Blog article about Charlevilles



Vendors:  Jarnagin, Jas. Townsend and Son, Loyalist Arms , Track of the Wolf
 

 

Comparative Accuracy Notes

"Hanger is emphatic that never in his life did he see better rifles than those made in America or men who shot better.  “They are made,” he says, “in Lancaster and two or three neighbouring towns in that vicinity in Pennsylvania.  The barrels weigh about six pounds two or three ounces, carry a ball no larger than thirty-six to the pound, and are three feet three inches long.  I have often asked what was the most they thought they could do with their rifle.  They have replied that they thought they were generally sure of splitting a man’s head at 200 yards, for so they termed their hitting the head.  I have also asked several whether they could hit a man at 400 yards.  They have replied certainly, or shoot very near him,”[3] as indeed is evinced by Hanger’s anecdote.

"Hanger contrasts the American rifle with the British Brown Bess:  “I do maintain that no man was ever killed at 200 yards by a common soldier’s musket by the person who aimed at him.  A soldier’s musket, if not exceeding badly bored and very crooked as many are, will strike the figure of a man at 80 yards; it may even at 100 yards; but a soldier must be very unfortunate indeed who shall be wounded by a common musket at 150 yards, provided his antagonist aims at him; and as to firing at a man at 200 yards with a common musket, you may just as well fire at the moon and have the same hopes of hitting your object.”[4]"

 

 

"GUN OF THE DAY-French Model 1768 Flintlock Musket"

"The U.S. Pattern 1795 musket [Springfield] was based on this French model. This New Hampshire-marked musket was imported in October, 1776 and saw service with Edward Cox, a journeyman farmer who enlisted with his brother, John, in the 2nd Regiment [VA], Continental Army.

"As the war progressed, more and more of the Continental Army received French muskets.  However as late as 1778, it appears the Virginians still were using British muskets:

"'May 19th: March'd...to Pluckemin...On our Arrival there, the nominal British Arms turn'd out mere Patch Work Old Arms cobbled up – refused them ... May 21st. The Virginians have accepted the Nominal British Arms – We must endeavour to be completed with French Musquets, which are as good again' - John Conway to William Maxwell, 12 June 1778"

 

NRA National Firearms Museum's photo.

 

 

John Parker's musket has been identified as a fowling piece, not a Charleville as per Lexington statue above.

N.B.  Rocklock = Flintlock


BTW, 
the French Charleville .69 caliber muskets were first presented to George Washington by Lafayette.  One estimate of Lafayette's deliveries is 25,000 Charlevilles.  The US later commissioned the 1795 Springfield musket based upon the Charleville design.  The Springfields are the crossed muskets which have become the US Infantry insignia.  

 

TAKE NOTICE:  According to the Journal of the American Revolution, the background "Take Notice" poster was not of Revolutionary War origin
but came from the mobilization for the "Quasi-War" with France in 1798.  Click here to view a set of "Take Notice" Manual of Arms products.

 

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